The winter of 2020-2019 has been very busy here in the shop with work concentrating primarily on locomotive #19. This former McCloud River RR /Yreka Western 2-8-2 has been undergoing heavy repairs at AoSRM for quite some time, and, as you steam loco lovers already know, the more you dig, the more problems you find. In taking #19 apart down to its bare bones, our shop workers have found old repairs on top of even older repairs, sometimes with no replacement of some worn-out, 106-year-old original parts. Poor #19 has seen a hard life with many “make-do” repairs, but because AoSRM insists on and performs only 1st class repairs, those days are gone.
The COVID-19 pandemic year 2020 has created many changes to the world as we then knew it, including AoSRM’s decisions regarding this locomotive’s rebuilding program and schedule for completion. Late last year, we decided to continue #19’s restoration, but now it will include the Federal Railroad Administration’s 1,472-service day/15-year requirement of a more thorough boiler inspection and rebuild. This will allow #19 to again re-enter operational status with a full service life of 15 years . . . a full service life that will also benefit AoSRM for its next 15 years.
The #19’s entire boiler was stripped of all external appliances, piping, jacketing and insulation (called “lagging”), and the large flues and smaller tubes have been removed. Needle scaling was performed inside and out to remove any flaking rust and other debris. The bare boiler shell has been marked externally and internally into more than 300, coded, square-foot-size grid sections for Ultrasonic Thickness Inspection. This non-destructive UTI process measures the length of time required for an emitted sound wave to travel from the test probe, through the boiler steel, and be reflected back to the probe. That specific duration of time determines the measurement of boiler thickness, with more time indicating areas having thicker steel and less time indicating areas having thinner steel. A formula converts these elapsed times into new, fraction-of-an-inch measurements and, among other considerations, will indicate if the designed boiler pressure can be safely used with the boiler’s new, minimum indicated test thickness. If not, repairs must be made to the boiler’s weaker areas, sometimes requiring new boiler courses or an entirely new boiler shell. Otherwise, the boiler’s normal operating pressure must be proportionally lowered to prevent failure of the original pressure vessel, and is less costly than fabricating a new boiler.
The electronic test probe was manually positioned at more than 1,200 individual measurement locations marked on both the inside and outside surfaces of #19’s boiler and firebox. Each reading was recorded and catalogued in the final report compiled by AoSRM’s engineering staff who will review the results and determine if any new reinforcements or new repairs are necessary to bring locomotive #19’s old boiler back into service.
Locomotive #19’s boiler has 199, two-inch fire tubes and twenty-eight, 5-1/2-inch superheater flues. All of these larger diameter flues work in conjunction with a Type A superheater to raise the temperature of the boiler steam by about 300° to remove water and produce “dry” steam that
has more energy than saturated or so-called “wet” steam. Each larger superheater flue contains smaller diameter superheater elements that snake down-and-back inside each flue—and then snake down-and-back again!—so that each small superheater element is comprised of just one long length of pipe using 3 return bends to make four, shorter, element sections. The steam makes four separate passes through the hot gasses inside each flue, thus raising the steam’s temperature by about 300° F for greater efficiency to turn heat energy into mechanical energy. These four superheater element sections fit into each 5-1/2-inch diameter flue, and together, the four sections comprise a single superheater unit. The #19 has 28 such superheater units in 28 superheater flues.
The Type A superheater units inside #19 have reached the end of their useful life span and will be 100% replaced with all new components, including new return bends. Some of these retired superheater units with their distinctive return bends will be saved and cut into short sections for future sales by AoSRM’s gift shop. The short sections will be great souvenir items from this very popular “movie star” locomotive—Emperor of the North, Stand By Me, and even Animal House!
While #19’s boiler work progresses, shop crews are also inspecting and repairing all running gear parts and components, including valve, main and side rods and their bearings. Using the AoSRM drop pit that lowers axles and wheel sets from their pedestal openings in the frames underneath a locomotive, each of #19’s four driver axles with their eight, 48-inch diameter driving wheels have been removed for axle bearing and lateral bearing repairs. This will also allow the re-trueing of all eight driving wheel tires to the proper tread profile. Interestingly, #19’s number one driver axle took longer to remove, as some of the heavy studs and nuts were broken-off their two pedestal binders. Located in both sides of the locomotive’s frame, pedestal openings (the white-colored, square-shape device to the left of the red wheel in this photo) are where each driving axle is housed. A removable pedestal binder is fastened across the bottom of each pedestal opening, thereby securing each driver axle into its two pedestal openings.
Other shop work performed on loco #19 will consist of repairs to its piping, spring rigging, brake rigging, rewiring its electrical system and a multitude of other areas. Even though it is difficult and dirty work, much enjoyment and pride are evidenced by AoSRM shop forces as they bring this famous locomotive back up to safe and reliable operating standards for many years to come, and for everyone to enjoy.
AoSRM’s 0-6-0 #12, built for Southern Railway in 1905 and sold to Morehead & North Fork, has received some minor adjustments as well as a new set of canvas cab curtains. On March 17, #12 underwent and passed its FRA annual inspection, including a required hydrostatic test of its boiler. Such “hydro” testing entails filling the boiler with warm water and then using a separate pump to increase the water’s pressure to 25% above the locomotive’s rated working (operating) pressure. The #12 will be fired-up and used occasionally at AoSRM this summer for special functions and events, such as our popular Blue Flag Tours. For schedules and to make reservations, visit our website at: www.ageofsteamroundhouse.org/blue-flag-tour/.
This winter’s work also has our 1920-built Chicago, Burlington & Quincy (CB&Q) passenger commuter coach #705 in the shop for minor mechanical repairs and a cosmetic make-over. The coach’s original CB&Q road number was #7158, and will be restored back onto its sides when the final exterior painting occurs. The all-steel carbody is receiving repairs to rusted areas, and general metalwork is being done to many smaller components. Interior reconditioning of all parts and moderate repairs to the floor are being done, and an interior coat of new paint has been applied. The coach’s exterior will be sandblasted and repainted to its former Pullman green color (livery), and will be relettered to reflect its CB&Q heritage. When repairs to #7158 have been completed, this coach will be displayed in its old-time “Q” livery, and will be ready-to-go for rentals or leasing to museums and tourist short lines for their passenger train operations.
Several second-hand machine tools have been purchased for use in the back shop, including a 50-ton “Ironworker” for cutting, shearing, nipping and punching holes in various metals, and a DoAll brand vertical metal bandsaw. The AoSRM’s machine shop is constantly upgrading and acquiring “experienced” machine tools that have been on our wish list and are acquired as funds allow.
Not all of the work performed in the shop is for just our railroad equipment, but also for the entire AoSRM facility—buildings, plumbing, electrical, property, etc.—to ensure that everything is properly maintained for longevity, safety and comfort of both public and staff. Such work entails constant monitoring of many disparate locations having ancient equipment, requiring full-time employees for maintenance, structure repairs, upgrades, new construction, grounds-keeping, repair parts inventories and acquisition of difficult-to-find antique items. Being added to AoSRM facilities will be a new, railroad car storage building measuring 65’x464’ and built in the same architectural style as existing structures. It will be featured in future issues of Roundhouse Report.
The Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum team is ready for a new, longer season of tours, exhibits, programs and special events! AoSRM has extended its 2021 tour season, with our first regular Roundhouse tours beginning on Saturday, May 1, and continuing for an extra 3 weekends through Saturday, November 20.
This year the Roundhouse will be offering a full schedule, including expanded opportunities for visitors—particularly railfans—to participate in numerous hands-on and in-depth educational programs, such as our always-popular Blue Flag and Ferroequinologist Tours. (Ferro = Iron, Equine = Horse, Ologist = One who studies a specific subject = Ferroequinologist = Steam Fan!) Designed for the knowledgeable railroad enthusiast, our 3-hour Ferroequinologist Tour is a more in-depth version of our regular guided Roundhouse tour, including our collection of 23 steamers.
Here we see husband-and-wife Blue Flag Tour-takers trying their hands at using stencils and differing applicators to practice painting numerals onto the tender flanks of the Roundhouse’s rare Reading 0-4-0 Camelback #1187. Other activities include getting to see up-close the current restoration projects being tackled in the shop, learning how to safely use some of the hand tools to repair railroad equipment, and the very rare and much-desired opportunity to assist with the prepping and firing-up of one of the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum’s steam locomotives. We’ll chuff around the yard so that everyone has an opportunity to pull the throttle on a steamer.
We will be featuring our all-new Founder’s Tour, a 3-hour, behind-the-scenes exploration that will highlight the life, locomotives and legacy of Jerry Joe Jacobson, the iconic and beloved founder, builder and benefactor of the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum. Jerry is seen here wearing his favorite Kromer, polka-dot engineer’s cap as he fires Canadian Pacific 4-6-2 #1293.
Visitors to the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum during 2021 will be treated to a special exhibit entitled Tools of the Trade. This display will feature original artifacts and tools used by railroad shop workers, showcasing their long-learned expertise and the all-important, day-to-day responsibility of maintaining massive and potentially dangerous railroad equipment. Tools of the Trade will open in the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum’s Jacobson Gallery on May 1, 2021, and will run through the end of this tour season, closing on November 20.
Beginning this summer, new family-friendly programs will include a series of special 45-minute events every Saturday at 1:00 p.m. The first in a new series of children’s activities, “Story Book and Explore,” is scheduled for Thursday, June 10 at 1:00 p.m., and will feature a Roundhouse volunteer reading aloud from Watty Piper’s classic children’s book, The Little Engine That Could (“I think I can, I think I can . . .”). This will be followed by a fun-filled stroll inside our giant 18-stall Roundhouse to see and marvel at our collection of The Big Engines That Could.
Our shorter, Saturday afternoon “Family Tours” during June-August will include a presentation about how steam locomotives operate. This will be followed by a rare, close-up look at the Age of Steam’s giant, 115-foot long turntable, a device used to “aim” locomotives into their proper roundhouse stalls or to spin them completely around. Groups will take a look in the back shop before finishing their tours in front of our beautiful, big and shiny steamer, GTW 4-8-4 #6325.
“Railroad Heritage Career Day” is scheduled for Thursday, July 8th at 1:00 p.m. Children and their families will have an opportunity to visit stations located throughout the Museum to learn about old-time railroad workers, their tools and their skilled trades as engineers, machinists, blacksmiths and carmen, good jobs that kept the railroads running during the Age of Steam.
“A Day of S.T.E.A.M. (Science. Technology. Engineering. Arts and Math)” has been scheduled for Thursday, August 12 at 1:00 p.m. Families will be able to explore the basic functions of old steam locomotives, and just what it took for them to go chug-chug-chugging down the track. Children will have an opportunity to express their creativity by crafting their own steam locos. Additional information and tickets for these fun-filled programs will be available on our website at: www.ageofsteamroundhouse.org/events/
At the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum, volunteers are central to the work that we do. During the winter we conducted a successful recruitment drive and this spring began training our new volunteers to support Roundhouse tours, programs and events. Volunteers help to ensure a safe experience for visitors by escorting tour groups, leading walking tours, and assisting with various duties during special events. Long-time volunteer Tim Botti (above) loves running steamer #12. To become a volunteer, contact: www.ageofsteamroundhouse.org/about-us/volunteer/
The Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum’s 2021 tour season will kick-off on May 1, 2021, and once again we are excited to share the Roundhouse and its amazing collection with our visitors. Like everyone else, last season was challenging for us, but are proud to say that we were able to run the tour season safely for our staff, volunteers and visitors. Surveys of our 2020 visitors rated AoSRM’s attention and dedication to our COVID-related safety measures at 4.8 on a scale of 5.0. As we begin to welcome visitors for the 2021 season, we want to assure everyone that we will continue to work tirelessly to make sure that your visit is enjoyable, entertaining and above all, safe. You can order tickets and learn more about our implemented COVID safety measures by following this link:
As COVID-19 spread, the future had never felt so unpredictable. These are challenging times for everyone, and we hope you are in high spirits and good health! Right now, AoSRM is doing everything possible to sustain our daily operations and fulfill our missions of education and preservation. While there is still a lot of uncertainty, we know that AoSRM must be able to adapt quickly to our changing reality. Now, more than ever, we need your support.
If you are able, please donate. If you are unable to donate at this time, there are many other ways you can support us. You can advocate for us by sharing our mission with a family member or friends on social media. Even a quick mention on your social media would mean the world to us. In times like this, we are reminded of how interconnected we all are.
Thanks to the generosity of many friends and visitors, we have received some unique items that we are selling through our on-line eBay store to help further support AoSRM’s efforts to keep its unique collection of heritage railroad equipment safe for future generations to enjoy. As each part is removed during restoration, we also auction one-of-a-kind, replaced pieces of equipment from our steam locomotives. Since McCloud River RR 2-8-2 #19 is now going through its 1,472-day inspection and rebuild inside our back shop, old items removed from this popular movie star steamer are available for sale on eBay as unique locomotive souvenirs. In addition to our eBay store, we have many regularly-stocked gift shop items on sale through our online store. Both of these year-round outlets provide another way that you can help support the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum. So that visitors may browse in person through our selection of AoSRM hats, T-shirts, books and many other souvenir items, we also have an on-site store that is open for business during our May-November regular tour season.